Farm safety gets more funding

Further to the recent article on the Victorian Government’s Budget Papers, farm safety programs received the funding to support the pledges made by the Australian Labor Party in last year’s Victorian election campaign. As with many occupational health and safety (OHS) announcements, details are hard to obtain but the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has helped.

The Victorian Budget papers pledged funds to

  • employ two additional Farm Safety Officers.
  • increase health checks for farmers.
  • deliver a new campaign to raise greater workplace safety awareness.

A spokesperson for the VFF told SafetyAtWorkBlog that

“We currently have one dedicated farm safety officer on staff, however, the specific job descriptions for the two additional officers are yet to be determined and may focus on specific areas.”

According to a VFF Media release dated May 27, 2019 mentioned the funds will

“… help us drive a culture of zero accidents and deaths on farm.”

Zero accident targets are impossible to reach and raise unrealistic expectation, as discussed elsewhere in this blog and the VFF needs to tread carefully with this terminology but it is difficult for safety advocates to avoid, without seeming heartless.

It is also unclear whether the promised health checks will include psychological assessments. And if mental health checks do occur, mental health support in regional areas continues to be low, unless its by phone or internet and these sorts of hazards require personal contact.

The media release contextualises OHS in the other economic, climatic and environmental challenges but OHS remains on the agenda. What performance measurements are applied by the government to this funding, if any, are unknown. It is likely that the farm safety activity will continue to operate in close cooperation with WorkSafe Victoria so it is probably that agency which is the next port for questions and clarification.

Kevin Jones

Categories agriculture, death, economics, government, health, OHS, politics, psychiatric, risk, safety

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